Cattle Guard

Stockholm syndrome with my body basically I’m listening to The Spine just saw a truck with a sticker that said


Freight train stopped on a curved track. The way the sun is hitting it, I thought the rail cars were shaded on a gradient.

The violence on the wall has me concerned. Mounted. A face. There are so many dead animals on the road, monitoring your browser history, bird songs through the windshield.

The engine humming a lullaby, I’m falling asleep behind the wheel, the road bounces me, a rocking chair, a cradle; how such harsh rocks, concrete, gravel, a metal machine, plastics and gasoline become a soft womb, a kind and comfortable place where I’m tucked into bed and killed.

I think we’ve still got enough time for you to become a virtual instrument. One flare two flare red flare the world is over. Baby cow sweet face. Dirt or bleach stain on my jeans.

It would have been nice if you’d put some thought into how this was going to look after it’s all said and done. Bureau of Centralized Planning for Intentional Aesthetics. Elon Musk wouldn’t allow dangerous areas on the factory floor to be painted yellow, which is what everybody apparently uses to signify caution, because he dislikes the color. Which I find to be utter trash.

Bad Land? No. Good Land. You are Good Land. Yes Good. I pat you on the head.

Five murdered coyotes in a pile by the river.

They could smell the bait a rancher left there. A calf that didn’t make it. Was there poison on its body? Inside it? I’m just asking questions here. I didn’t see any bullet holes, their legs didn’t look like they’d been caught in a trap. I couldn’t see any blood. At all.

By the river, a family of dead dogs.

This is what happens when you tie profit incentives to the raising of herbivores for slaughter. The Cattle Guard eliminates all competing carnivores. Ate the dead calf, drank from the river, held each other. They were puppies once. They howled at the moon. They suffered. All for the sale of grass-fed beef.

This is a cursed place. This is hallowed ground. I walk away from here, and I do not forget your crime.

Maybe I had seen those coyotes before. Two of them, in the park, when you came out with me in the winter. They walked across the expanse of snow, their lean legs, their little paw prints.

The American flag over the gas station. I take it down. I pull it down from the pole. I tie it to the hitch of my four wheeler and pull it back to my house. My old house. I drape the flag over my house and it completely engulfs it. My childhood home. It’s completely covered by the American flag, like a blanket, like a pavilion, and it rains. The dye runs and my house, the lawn, and the sidewalk all turn a shitty purple. Like cheap bruises. Fake ones, like Halloween. I drive my four-wheeler all over the flag. I pop wheelies and do donuts in the stripes. I launch off the roof and dive into what’s left of the stars. I try to do a flip and I total it. I’m hanging upside down in my four-wheeler when I notice the diesel spilling from the tank, so I get ready to juice it outta there. But that’s when I notice the dogs. All of the dogs I’ve ever known. The dogs from the neighborhood. My friends’ dogs. Dogs from North Dakota and dogs from Minneapolis. Dogs from Miami and Portland, Oregon. Dogs I met in the desert and dogs I met in the parking lot while feeding French fries to the birds at Big Boy. The dog that freaked me out when I was a little kid and the dog that kept you safe when you were alone. Black labs, collies, huskies and robots. Dogs from the movies. Even dogs we thought were dead, she just up and left one day in the eighties, walked out into the river bottoms after a snowstorm. They all showed up with flint in their teeth. I could smell it before I saw it happen.